School plans move forward

Alnwick is a step closer to its new high school following the announcement of a contract for the construction of 12 schools in the North East.

As part of the Government’s Priority School Building programme, the Duchess’s Community High School is to get a replacement building on the Greensfield site, opposite Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre. The Education Funding Agency has shortlisted Miller Construction, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine to compete to provide a total of 12 new schools across the North East in a contract thought to be worth in the region of £94million.

Northumberland County Council is providing an additional £10million to support the new school developments in Alnwick and Bedlington.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a very welcome announcement and particularly exciting news for the young people of Bedlington and Alnwick. Hopefully, these new buildings can help inspire the next generation of learners to achieve.”

The exact timeline for the opening of the new schools is yet to be confirmed, although it is likely to be between September 2015 and April 2016.

Maurice Hall, headteacher at the Duchess’s school, said: “I am very pleased that we have moved on to the next phase of our new school development.

“To hear a specific announcement such as this, identifying nationally-renowned companies wanting to build our new high school does make it feel real and exciting.

“We look forward to seeing what design ideas they have for making learning successful and effective for our next generation of young people.”

Northumberland Estates, which will be leasing the Greensfield site to the county council, said: “We are proud to support the new high school building project in Alnwick. This announcement is extremely positive and we look forward to seeing the plans progress over the coming months.”